The seaside town of La Rábita, near the Almería border, saw a naval battle where the ammunition was tomatoes and peppers - gazpacho, anybody?
Of course, this maritime confrontation, called the Balandrilla de Los Gatos, was part of the municipality’s fiestas. This variation of the Moros y Cristianos is unique, because it takes place on the sea and is growing in popularity.
Two small craft are decked out as if they were large warships of the era and their crews pelt each other with tomatoes and peppers – vicious! Actually, vegetables used are restricted to the softer kind – nobody wants to be hit by a melon, for example. A direct hit from a pumpkin would probably sink one of the craft outright.
Spectators on the beach cheer on their ‘team’ towards victory in the shape of one of them ‘sinking.’ The whole things starts with a rocket going up as a signal to commence.
Now, this battle takes place so close to the beach that spectators are provided with buckets of tomatoes to provide a bit of ‘shore artillery.’ With patience, children wait for expended ammunition to return in the surf in order to reuse it.
The Mayor, Manuel Salinas, says that they are trying to keep a tradition alive, so that the younger generation get involved. Perhaps an uphill struggle given the distraction that mobile phones and social media provide.
Mind you, things have become more civilised – not so very long ago they rounded up stray cats in sacks (according to one Rabiteño), put them onboard, and then released them into the water so that they would swim back, like a ships crew abandoning ship.
In this more environmentally enlightened age, a boat is sent out next morning to collect all the floating debris, whilst on the beach the same is done.
Being a Christian nation, the Moros always lose, but both the victors and vanquished help each other beach their ‘warships’ and tidy up afterwards.
(News: La Rábita, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia – Photo: Alba Feixas/Granada Hoy)